Message to Man Film Festival – 25 Years

Mikhail Litvyakov – Misha – rushed into the cinema for a National Competition programme, saw me and Viktor Skubey, producer and dear friend from many years of visiting St. Petersburg, came to hug and picked out proudly a 56 page booklet, well illustrated, his memories from the quarter of a century, where he has been heading the festival. Easy reading, full of anecdotes it is, but also mentioning the different moments of crisis that I think every festival with that age has experienced. Misha was director general of the festival from 1988 until 2011, where film director Alexei Uchitel took over as president with Misha as the honorary President, always around full of energy and humour.

It’s pleasant reading – ”they” have all been here: Richard Leacock, Leo Hurwitz, Erwin Leiser, Herz Frank, Volker Schlöndorff, Tonino Guerra, Godfrey Reggio, Kusturica, Agnes Varda, Ulrich Seild and so on – and Leni Riefenstahl, and that created a lot of problems. A quote: … I definitely did not expect the scandal that erupted even before she arrived. In the free newspaper Metro, Oleg Stirzhak’s article ”Triumph of Forgetfulness” appeared, in which he accused the organizers of the festival of forgetting about the Blockade and basically rehabilitating fascism…”

But there are also memories from the time, when the festival had to say goodbye to the requirement that all films had to be submitted on film material, the consequent technical changes in the cinemas, and of course there has been constant fund raising problems.

Russian directors have started their career at the Message to Man festival: Sergey Dvortsevoy and Viktor Kossakovski as the most prominent names. The latter premiered his new film here the other night – review will follow.

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Tue Steen Müller
Tue Steen Müller

Müller, Tue Steen
Documentary Consultant and Critic, DENMARK

Worked with documentary films for more than 20 years at the Danish Film Board, as press officer, festival representative and film consultant/commissioner. Co-founder of Balticum Film and TV Festival, Filmkontakt Nord, Documentary of the EU and EDN (European Documentary Network).
Awards: 2004 the Danish Roos Prize for his contribution to the Danish and European documentary culture. 2006 an award for promoting Portuguese documentaries. 2014 he received the EDN Award “for an outstanding contribution to the development of the European documentary culture”. 2016 The Cross of the Knight of the Order for Merits to Lithuania. 2019 a Big Stamp at the 15th edition of ZagrebDox. 2021 receipt of the highest state decoration, Order of the Three Stars, Fourth Class, for the significant contribution to the development and promotion of Latvian documentary cinema outside Latvia. In 2022 he received an honorary award at DocsBarcelona’s 25th edition having served as organizer and programmer since the start of the festival.
From 1996 until 2005 he was the first director of EDN (European Documentary Network). From 2006 a freelance consultant and teacher in workshops like Ex Oriente, DocsBarcelona, Archidoc, Documentary Campus, Storydoc, Baltic Sea Forum, Black Sea DocStories, Caucadoc, CinéDOC Tbilisi, Docudays Kiev, Dealing With the Past Sarajevo FF as well as programme consultant for the festivals Magnificent7 in Belgrade, DOCSBarcelona, Verzio Budapest, Message2Man in St. Petersburg and DOKLeipzig. Teaches at the Zelig Documentary School in Bolzano Italy.

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